Sunday, June 04, 2006

Intermission. Bukowski.

I should have just gone ahead and called this blog Kairu Reads Bukowski. I will probably take a break from Bukowski for a while, take a breath and read something else, fall in love with someone else, drown in someone else's burning words. Already I am moving in directions I hadn't thought possible a year ago. But I come back to Bukowski because of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Overheard while waiting in line for the screening of Factotum (paraphrased because I've got a shitty memory):
- "I've never read anything by Bukowski. I'm here just 'cause Matt Dillon's in the movie." (girl to slightly drunken man who only wishes he was Bukowski).
- "Matt Dillon's in the movie? I thought you said Bob Dylan! That's why I came!" (middle-aged man to his friend. I think he was joking).
- "You should totally become a member! I'm a member! You get all kinds of cool benefits! I got to be within four feet of David Duchovny! I could have touched him! Only I didn't want to seem creepy." (extremely perky SIFF member/volunteer passing out free candy and membership pamphlets to people waiting in line).
- "That's not really a selling point for me." (guy she was giving the SIFF member spiel to).
- "He's married to Téa Leoni." (friend of the guy).
- "Well, maybe if it had been Téa then I would have been interested." (the first guy, in response to his friend).
- "Twenty bucks for that!? (a folding stool emblazoned with "SIFF") You've got to be fucking kidding me! (slightly drunken Bukowski fan kicks the stool over to demonstrate its flimsiness and emphasize his contempt for blatant commerce).

The film Factotum is loosely based on the Bukowski novel of the same name, which I read some months ago. I didn't like it as much as Post Office, which was a lot funnier, or love it as much I did Women, which was more romantic. It seemed to go in circles, as Chinaski moved in and out of jobs and between women, interspersed with bouts of drinking and betting, going nowhere. I wasn't sure how it would translate to film. And I was surprised. Sure, there were some things played for cheap laughs, certainly Matt Dillon would occasionally relapse into the furrowed-browed school of acting that has long been his trademark. But I was surprised at how well he did otherwise, how he changed in the way he spoke, which reminded me of recordings I've heard of Bukowski's own voice, a voice that sounded of whiskey and cigarettes, the way he moved; when he stood still he reminded me of photographs of Bukowski, that easy slouch. As with most actors who were heartthrobs in their early careers, the prettiness of Dillon's youth has matured into something altogether more interesting. The film is based on the novel, and on Bukowski's own life (but of course all his writing is loosely based on himself to begin with), and with his poems read aloud in voice-over. There was something beautiful about the film. It isn't set in Bukowski's time, it takes place now, but it could be any time, any city. (Actually, I believe it was filmed in Minneapolis, but I'm not familiar with the city). And I loved it.

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